Research Papers:

A validated, transitional and translational porcine model of hepatocellular carcinoma

Kyle M. Schachtschneider _, Regina M. Schwind, Kwame A. Darfour-Oduro, Arun K. De, Lauretta A. Rund, Kuldeep Singh, Daniel R. Principe, Grace Guzman, Charles E. Ray Jr, Howard Ozer, Ron C. Gaba and Lawrence B. Schook

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:63620-63634. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18872

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Kyle M. Schachtschneider1,2,3, Regina M. Schwind3, Kwame A. Darfour-Oduro1, Arun K. De1, Lauretta A. Rund1, Kuldeep Singh4, Daniel R. Principe5, Grace Guzman6, Charles E. Ray Jr.3,7, Howard Ozer7, Ron C. Gaba3 and Lawrence B. Schook1,3

1Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA

2Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands

3Department of Radiology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

4Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA

5College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

6Department of Pathology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

7Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Correspondence to:

Lawrence B. Schook, email: [email protected]

Keywords: hepatocellular carcinoma, human, porcine model, gene expression, interventional radiology

Received: October 21, 2016    Accepted: June 05, 2017    Published: June 29, 2017


Difficult questions are confronting clinicians attempting to improve hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) outcomes. A large animal model with genetic, anatomical, and physiological similarities to humans is required to transition from mouse models to human clinical trials to address unmet clinical needs. To validate our previously reported inducible porcine cancer model (Oncopig) as a transitional HCC model, Oncopig hepatocyte cultures were transformed using Cre recombinase. The resulting porcine HCC cells (pHCC) expressed oncogenic TP53R167H and KRASG12D, and displayed nuclear pleomorphisms with pale to granular cytoplasm arranged in expanded plates similar to human HCC histopathology. Human HCC transcriptional hallmarks were detected in pHCC cells using RNA-seq, including TERT reactivation, apoptosis evasion, angiogenesis activation, and Wnt signaling activation. Master regulators of gene expression were conserved across Oncopig and 18 human HCC cell lines. pHCC injection into SCID mice resulted in tumors recapitulating human HCC characteristics, including thick trabeculae formation, pseudoacini patterning, and sheets of well-vascularized stroma. Finally, autologous injection of pHCC cells subcutaneously yielded a tumor histologically characterized as Edmondson Steiner (HCC nuclear grade assessment system) grade 2 HCC with trabecular patterning and T-lymphocyte infiltration. These data demonstrate the Oncopig HCC model’s utility for improving detection, treatment, and biomarker discovery relevant to human HCC.

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